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When I first signed up for Facebook, it was just a way to keep in touch with people. I reconnected with old friends, kept up with family from afar, and posted occasional updates on the life and times of the Osbornes. Today, Facebook has become a place to follow brands and celebrities, post selfies and rant about your boss, share viral videos and pass judgment, and, of course, #humblebrag about how #blessed we are. #ndb.
Add in Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest and the social media noise can get pretty loud. Whether you love it or hate it, choose to abstain or are completely addicted, social media is here to stay.
With my twins’ arrival last October, I spent a lot of time on social media. Like, a LOT. I was stuck at home, nursing twins for hours each day, completely immobile, cut-off from the “real” world, and in need of SOME sort of human contact. Scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest was the perfect pass time.
After months of social media saturation, I started to feel the effects. Other than the sore thumbs from endless scrolling, I felt a changing in my thoughts, my perception and judgment of others, how I viewed and felt about myself. I basically felt kinda icky on my insides.
I know many people choose an all out fast, whether temporary or permanent, and that can be really beneficial. But I was drawn to a different solution: to practice a sort of social media version of “being in the world, but not of the world.” With this in mind, here are three things I did to make my experience on social media more positive.
1. Get rid of the negativity.
I wondered if it was possible to purge my social media feeds of images and posts that drag me down and fill it with things that encourage and enrich my life. I wanted to try approaching my social media use thoughtfully and intentionally, controlling it instead of letting it control me.
I went spring cleaning, social media style.
I no longer scrolled mindlessly, but instead, I purposefully, consciously decided with each post I came across, “is this good or bad for me?” I was ruthless, hiding and unfollowing left and right. I did my best not to judge the poster, but judge how the content affected me. How it impacted my thoughts, actions, perceptions. My soul.
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Sorry, girl. I’m happy you are getting back in shape, but your workout selfies are giving me an unhealthy discontent with my postpartum body. HIDE.
Sorry, old friend. Your travel pictures are making me bitter about my inability to hop a flight to a far away land. HIDE.
Sorry, lifestyle blog. Your posts are making me covet brands I just can’t afford. UNFOLLOW.
Friends, family, and old co-workers that shared and posted positive updates and pictures bubbled to the surface, while negative influences fell away with a simple point and click.
2. Bring in more positive influences.
In the process of filtering my feeds based on my personal struggles and weaknesses, I found people and that strengthened and uplifted me. Some of my favorites? Of course, iBelieve.com, but I found encouragement and inspiration across the social media spectrum. Humans of New York. Beauty Redefined. Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls. The Art of Simple. Body Image Movement. Million Praying Women.As well as these amazing bloggers: Sarah Bessey. Ann Voskamp. Nish Weiseth. Momastery. Tsh Oxenreider. Jen Hatmaker. Lisa-Jo Baker.
But my Twitter et. al. transformation would be complete until I turned the microscope on myself, asking what my words, pictures, and posts brought to others. I had to decide: am I just going to use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest for my own amusement, entertainment, or even encouragement, largely being a consumer of content? Or do I want I be more thoughtful about my posts and shares? Can I use my small corner of the internet to bless and boost others?
Once I started asking myself these questions, I realized the great ministry and mission field I had, literally, at my finger tips.
3. Take a closer look at what I’m posting.
Too often I hear of the evils of social media, and don’t get me wrong, they are there. Why be on websites or apps that can be so destructive and distracting? Why not cancel your account and move on?
On the other hand, I do enjoy the frivolity of it all. The celebrity gossip, viral videos, and silly song mashups. I know many people (myself included) who have chosen to just scroll through their feeds, to friend and follow and like and share without much purpose or plan, and that’s fine. Social media is a fun distraction, a harmless hobby. An much needed opportunity to veg-out after a long day.
So it seems you can do one of three things.
Just quit social media all together. Choose not to participate in its evils, instead abstaining and refraining from exposure to the pop-culture-candy and negative influence of social media culture. A valid choice.
Or you can go with the flow. Post and update, like and pin and share with wild abandon. Consume and comment and enjoy social media for what it is, a harmless distraction. Another valid choice.
Or, is there a third option? One where we grab hold of it, control our consumption and our participation. Where we ask ourselves: what is my social media mission statement?
How am I helping or harming my friends and followers by my social media participation? How am I uniquely situated to create and disseminate more good on the internet?
What must I chose to unfollow, unfriend, or hide from my feeds in order to protect my heart and soul?
I wonder if we all approached social media more mindfully, if the world (wide web) might be a better place. For everyone.
What would your social media mission statement be? What type of content do you want to read, learn, see to encourage and equip you? What do you want to say or share with others so you can be a positive addition to their feed? I’d love to hear your ideas!
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Marie Osborne is a wife, mama, and blogger who loves Jesus & large non-fat lattes. You can find Marie on her blog encouraging, challenging, and laughing… under a pile of diapers.